Archive for the ‘Politics’ category

The President Embraces Technology

January 24th, 2009

I love a lot of things here. I love that the President of the Untied States embraces technology and posts his weekyl address on YouTube. I love that within this weeks address, he says “hold my administration accountable” for his plans. And I love there is a PDF download right under the video, outlining in more detail the plans proposed and benchmarks with which to measure success.

Kayla and Barack

January 20th, 2009

My beautiful and brilliant 9yr old niece Kayla had her story published today in the Daily Herald. She met him at his Chicago campaign headquarters over the summer, and the Daily Herald asked today for her story…

We asked you to tell us what Barack Obama’s inauguration as president means to you, and you responded with eloquent essays, poems and even paintings commemorating this moment in history.

‘Even when you’re important, you’re still like everybody else’

By Kayla Cook

When I met Barack Obama, he told me to work hard in school and dream big dreams.

I got to meet him because my Uncle Pete Dagher was running the Chicago Obama headquarters.

Me, my mom and my dad went there one night. I was really excited because he was a United States senator running for president.

That day at camp, we had an activity. We made bracelets out of a red, white or blue pipe cleaners and red, white and blue beads for the Fourth of July. I chose blue. And I did a pattern of blue, red and white beads.

We also made posters. Mine said, “Obama Rocks!” because I knew I was going to go to the headquarters.

When we went there that night, I was sitting comfortably in an orange chair. And then I heard his footsteps. Then I had to stand up. He walked in. I was standing between my mom and dad. He walked right past my mom, who was on my left, and he went straight to me.

All I could see was the bottom of his chin because he’s so tall.

I said, “Hi, I’m Kayla.” He shook my hand and said, “Hello, Kayla.” Then he shook my mom and dad’s hands.

I nervously gave him the bracelet and poster that I made. I wondered if he liked them. He studied them and held onto them.

Then he walked over to a desk, asked for a piece of scratch paper and a pen, and he wrote me a thank-you letter.

This taught me that, even when you’re important, you’re still like everybody else. It’s important to say, “thank you.”

My mom and dad couldn’t believe what they were seeing. My mom was totally caught up in the moment.

Then Sen. Obama said, “Kayla, I’m sure your mom would like to take a picture.” It was like he was cueing her for her lines in a play. My mom took out her camera and took one picture.

I am not surprised that he is going to be president because he was so kind and caring.

On the night of the election, when Barack Obama was proclaimed the new president, my dad told me that it’s an executive order – I have to work hard in school or I’m breaking the law.

• Kayla Cook, 9, is a third-grader at Madison Elementary School in Lombard and the daughter of Daily Herald Opinion Page Editor Anne Halston.

Kayla Cook with Barack Obama   Barack’s note to Kayla

White House website

January 20th, 2009

Shortly after the inauguration of President Barack Obama I visited the official White House website.  It sure didn’t take long for them to transition here…

Whitehouse.gov 1pm central today

CNN and Facebook Inauguration Webcast

January 20th, 2009

Watching a Presidential inauguration is always a fascinating experience for me. Watching a usually somber outgoing President and then looking with hope to the new President always makes me wonder what those individuals are thinking in that moment. 

 I like the pomp and circumstance, the protocol, the orchestrations of an inauguration. It really is remarkable to witness such a peaceful and orderly governmental transition. I watching it on a shaky internet feed from CNN.com through Facebook. Clearly CNN was not prepared to scale their feed to serve the likely millions of simulaneous web viewers. The Facebook side of the event seemed more stable and frankly pretty intrguing in watching my “friends” update their statuses in realtime, mimicing a chat. The CNN video feed was choppy at best, frozen and contanstanly buffering in spite of my T1 connection. The audience for this webcast was probably off the charts; unprecedented, so perhaps they did ok.  But in no way was it a smooth video experience.

Change I Can Believe In

December 10th, 2008

In the news today… President-Elect Barack Obama gave a wide ranging interview that included:

Barack Obama says his presidency is an opportunity for the U.S. to renovate its relations with the Muslim world, starting the day of his inauguration and continuing with a speech he plans to deliver in an Islamic capital.

And when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20, he plans to be sworn in like every other president, using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.

“I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular,” Obama said Tuesday, promising an “unrelenting” desire to “create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together.”

The world, he said, “is ready for that message.”

This world of ours needs so much healing, more understanding and tolerance, it’s good to see the incoming administration recognizes this and is willing to reach out. Now that is change I can believe in!

Higher Ground

November 3rd, 2008

Politically, I identify as a Democrat although I’ve voted for my share of Republicans (and once for the Green Party) too. Now more than ever I believe a philosophical shift to the Left will help balance or un-do some of the damage done by the Right over the past eight years. I truly believe the change Barack Obama has been advocating is more than just a referendum on the failed policies of the Bush administration. I think this man has the power to heal the country and make us all better citizens of this world. Not necessarily by policy, but by changing the conversation out there. Raising the question and inviting each of us to make better choices. I admire the way this man, an African-American man, has not chosen to leverage his heritage to make us think differently about electing a person of color to the office of President. He just put his best self out there as the best candidate and made his case to the people.

I grew up in a neighborhood where voting for an African-American candidate was not a very popular idea. When Harold Washington was elected mayor of Chicago in 1983, I remember hearing the most vicious, overtly racist comments about how the city would ‘go to hell’ if he were elected. Race was an issue – a big issueback then. Now we as a society are in a place where race is mostly an after-thought. Same in part can be said of gender with the candidacy of Sarah Palin. I am aware there is still a great deal of racial prejudice and gender in-equality. I am constantly challenging myself in this regard every day – even more-so lately. It seems my self image and the reality of how open and ‘color-blind’ I am are not always in perfect alignment. This is a work in progress for me.

I believe Barack Obama serving as President of the United States can help to make us better citizens of this world. I do not agree with all of his initiatives specifically, but philosphically, I think his would be the perfect successor (antidote?) to the Bush administration. Financially and economically by every conceivable metric, this nation is worse off now than the day George W. Bush was elected President. I do not believe the booming economy inherited and severely damaged by Bush administration policies would have stayed on the same upward trajectory had Al Gore been elected in 2000, but I think the inevitable market corrections would not have been as dramatic and devastating to this economy. We as a nation would have likely been less reliant on fossil fuels, and more conscious of how we consume energy in general, specifically gasoline. For example, when the price hit $4.30 per gallon a few months ago people suddenly began consolidating trips, walking, riding a bike or bus, car pooling or just staying home. The price dropped as demand dropped. proving we can do it, we have the power to affect change! We have proved capable of making some different choices when faced with the consequences. I think a Gore administration would have fostered this more thoughtful way of living over the past eight years.

With the political leadership of a Barack Obama administration, I believe we have the opportunity to re-examine how things are done in government and in ourselves.  This historic opportunity is now before us once again. My vote goes to Barack Obama – not only for change in government, but for real change in our society. 

To paraphrase the great Stevie Wonder, I’m seeking a higher ground.

Listen to “Higher Ground”:  Stevie Wonder - Stevie Wonder: The Definitive Collection - Higher Ground  Higher Ground MP3 @ Amazon




This is what I’m talkin’ about

September 2nd, 2008

From WatcherOfTheSkies:

Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown reports: At a press avail in Monroe, Mich., Barack Obama on Palin: “Back off these kinds of stories.”

“I have said before and I will repeat again: People’s families are off limits,” Obama said. “And people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18 and how a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn’t be a topic of our politics.”

On charges that his campaign has stoked the story via liberal blogs:

“I am offended by that statement. There is no evidence at all that any of this involved us,” he said. “Our people were not involved in any way in this, and they will not be. And if I thought there was somebody in my campaign who was involved in something like that, they would be fired.”

Yes, brilliance from a brilliant man and my preferred Presidential candidate. Rise above the fray, take the high road.  Still, the devil in me enjoys the irony of Sarah Palin’s Republican “Family Values” beliefs coming home to roost.  Karma train comin’ through!

Air Force One

August 1st, 2008

Here is a pretty cool video (under 4 minutes) summarizing a pool reporter’s experience riding Air Force One with the president to a private fundraiser in Atlanta. This is stuff you never get to see, so I found it interesting…

Separating facts from political rhetoric

June 10th, 2008

Especially in election season, selective use of facts to bend a story to meet the needs of a given party makes me crazy.  Be it from the Right or from the Left, I get disgusted and feel somewhat (relatively) hopeless when I see this tactic being used.  I witnessed it unfolding in my village recently; real chicken little – the sky is falling kind of stuff.  Makes my blood boil. 

I saw this article by Eric Zorn in the Tribune on the purported Obama-Rezko “scandal”.  If this is the most they can dig up on Barack, the fall presidential election should be landslide!  This is definitely worth a read & a share…

Let’s clarify the Obama deal with Rezko — a handy cheat sheet

John McCain didn’t borrow money from a guy going to jail to build his house....Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) discussing  Barack Obama on  Sunday’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulous.”

Perhaps Graham was simply confused. After all, there are many fine points to remember in the story of the land deal involving Obama and fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, and off-the-cuff summaries can blur the truth.

Obama didn’t borrow even a dime from Rezko to buy — not build — a house three years ago.

But now that Rezko is, in fact, “going to jail” — he’s actually already serving prison time after his conviction last week on federal corruption charges —  and Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president,  it’s time for a handy cheat sheet for pols and and pundits tempted to incorporate this tale into their campaign narratives.

So, for the gentleman from South Carolina and other befuddled parties, here are `08 things you need to knowabout how and why the Obamas and Rezkos purchased adjoining properties in the Kenwood neighborhood on the same day in June, 2005:

1.  The deal could have gone down without Rezko. 

While it’s true that the couple who sold the house to the Obamas and the adjoining vacant lot to Rezko’s wife required the deals to close on the same day, there was at least one other serious bidder on the lot.

2. The Obamas did not get a special discount on the  house. 

Yes, the original asking price was $1.95 million and the sale price was $1.65 million, but the sellers have confirmed that the sale price was the result of routine real estate negotiations and was the best offer they received on the house.

3. The sellers rejected two lower bids from the Obamas.

The Obamas first offered $1.3 million and then $1.5 million before agreeing with the sellers to the $1.65 million price.  

4.   The Rezkos did not pay an inflated price for the vacant lot.   

Obama has said his broker told him another interested party had already put in a bid on the lot at or close to the asking price of $625,000. No one has challenged this assertion.

5.  The Obamas did not get a special discount from the Rezkos when they later purchased a one-sixth strip of the vacant lot to enlarge their  yard. 

The price the Obamas paid, $104,500, was a neat one-sixth of the price of the lot and more than double the value Obama said his appraiser put on the strip. The remaining portion of the vacant lot reportedly sold earlier this year for $675,000.

6. The Obamas did not receive or borrow any money from the Rezkos to buy their house.  

They took out a $1.3 million mortgage and paid the balance with proceeds from Obama’s best-selling books.

7.  Obama hasn’t done any political or personal favors for Rezko  since this saga began.

 The lone example critics cite is that Obama allowed the son of a Rezko business associate to serve a one-month unpaid internship in his office in 2005.

8. The reason Obama is nevertheless correct in describing his actions here as “boneheaded” is that Rezko is and was a sleazeball.

Many of the warning signswere obvious in 2005 and Obama blew through them. 

That doesn’t reflect well on him,  I agree. But neither does it turn this otherwise ordinary real estate story into a scandal or excuse those who can’t or don’t want to keep the above facts straight.

I said 5 minutes flat; not 6, 10…90

June 3rd, 2008

My drivers license was due to expire tomorrow. I have been dreading a trip to the IL Secretary of State to take care of the renewal but with the deadline looming, had to bite the bullet.  I went to one of the “Express” facilities – essentially a small store front in Wheaton. I discovered this little gem when I moved to Lombard in 1999 and have tried to use them for Secretary of State (I refuse to call it DMV like in California) business ever since and here’s why:

I renewed my license, took a vision test, paid the fee (cash only, which in light of George Ryan’s demise is ironic), took my photo, and left the facility inside of 5 minutes start to finish!  I don’t mean 10 minutes or even 6 minutes – it was under 5 minutes flat.  There were more employees than customers as per usual for this facility, and it was bing-bam-boom and I’m on my way!  Gotta love it…

Jesse White